Use of this program will support athletes in achieving their nutritional goals as they relate to sports performance, while also providing basic nutrition education that they can use life long. The dietary suggestions should support the athlete's needs during and after a workout and therefore the combination of foods you choose is very important.

The following are some basic principles we ask that you consider before adding meals to the program as more personalized or additional options to what is already there.

Nutrient Combinations

Given that muscles use glucose for energy it is vitally important to have a carbohydrate source at all meals, ideally more complex than simple, but in some cases any sugar will do. In addition, protein plays a vital role in glycogen replenishment as well in addition to supporting anabolism of the muscle and decreasing catabolism. Carbohydrates should be in combination with a lower fat protein source complementing the carbohydrate. The protein source can be higher fat if in smaller amounts and certainly if post workout.


Hummus is certainly an excellent protein option but this must be paired with fruit or vegetables or crackers -- all in moderation of course.

Whole Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables

Caution should be given to using too many whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as fiber content can easily get to a point where it might create GI disturbances, also watch for beans. Although a stir-fry may be a healthy option for a nonathlete, depending on the combination of vegetables, this meal could easily be too high in fiber, too low in available carbohydrate and too low in protein.


Dietary Restrictions

Consider options that are vegan, nut and gluten free for student athletes that have dietary restrictions.

Fat Content

Fat takes longer to "digest" and therefore lower fat meals are advised around the times of practice or games, while post game or practice a higher fat meal may be fine.

Carb-Only Suggestions

The only time we might advise carb–only options would be early in the am when a student may not have an appetite or during a workout in the form of sports drinks, diluted fruit juice etc.

Whey Protein & Leucine

Given the current research on the benefits of whey protein and leucine, dairy, if tolerated, is advised post workout, however, soy is certainly an option or just whey protein powder which is tolerated by most even if lactose intolerant.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact us.

Franca B. Alphin, MPH, RDN, LDN, CSSD, CEDRD
franca.alphin [at] duke.edu